Merchant Category Codes (MCC)
Merchant Category Codes (MCC) classifications are implementations of ISO 18245:2003 used by major payment card organizations such as MasterCard, Visa, and Amex to categorize merchants based on the type of their business activity. MCC codes are used in determining interchange fees, risk assessment, restricting purchases for certain card types, as well as tax reporting in the U.S.
Each MCC code consists of 4 digits. The Merchant Category Codes classification system has codes for various business activities (e.g.
MCC 5532 - Automotive Tire Stores), as well as codes for specific merchants (e.g.
MCC 3001 - American Airlines, or
MCC 3513 Westin Hotels). MCC classification is focused primarily on categorizing the businesses/institutions able to receive credit card payments. Notably, most of the businesses in the agricultural and manufacturing space are missing from the classification. For this reason, creating correspondence tables between MCC and other industry classifications such as SIC or NAICS is task where many judgement calls need to be made.
The canonical version of Merchant Category Codes is defined by ISO 18245:2003 Retail financial services — Merchant category codes standard. The table below show the code ranges used in raw ISO 18245:2003 standard along with the types of merchants in each range.
|Range of Codes
|Reserved for private use
|Automobiles and vehicles
|Amusement and entertainment
|Professional services and membership organizations
|Reserved for ISO use
History & versions
The original Merchant Category Codes list was published in April 2003 by International Organization for Standardization as a part of ISO-18245:2003. It has been last reviewed in 2017, and remains valid at the time of writing this article (October 2020). The standard is available for purchase at ISO website.
The most popular implementations of ISO 18245:2003 are Visa MCC and MasterCard MCC. MasterCard refers to MCCs as Card Acceptor Business Codes, whereas Visa sticks to the conventional name Merchant Category Codes. Both implementations are mostly similar, and the main differences between them are inclusion of particular merchants from the list, and codes specific to activities carried by a particular payment card organization. For example
MCC 3176 Metroflight Airlines and
MCC 9701 Visa Credential Server are included only in the Visa MCC list, and
MCC 3547 Breakers Resort and
MCC 6537 MoneySend Intercountry only in MasterCard MCC list. A complete list of MCC codes specifying differences between Visa and MasterCard versions is available at citibank website.
Both Visa and MasterCard update their MCC lists periodically, but they do not publish specific versions of the list online. Instead, only the latest versions of the classifications are available.
Besides Visa and MasterCard other payment card organizations such as American Express (Amex) and Discover use their own implementations of ISO-18245:2003.
Where is it used?
MCC codes are assigned by the acquirer to merchants using their services according to the guidelines published by the payment card organization they work with. An acquirer (acquiring bank) is a bank (or a financial institution) that processes debit/credit card payment on behalf of the merchant. For example, when a bookstore starts doing business with MasterCard it will be given MCC code
5192. These codes are then used:
- to determine the interchange fee paid by the issuer (a bank or a financial institution that issued a card) to the acquirer
- categorizing transactions of the credit card statement
- to prevent certain types of purchases on some cards (e.g. corporate credit cards may prevent purchases at some types of merchants)
- in risk assessment of a credit card transactions
- in credit card reward programs, where the credit card user gets different rewards for spending on certain categories of items
- (United States only) in payment reporting to IRS under section 6041 or section 6041A of the Internal Revenue Code (Form 1099-MISC).
- Structure of ISO 18245 - French Standardization Association
- Merchant Category Codes - American Express (Amex)
- Merchant Category Codes - MasterCard MCC
- Merchant Category Codes - Visa MCC
- Merchant Category Codes on GitHub
MCC conversion tables
- MCC Visa to NAICS 2017 - USA conversion table
- MCC MasterCard to NAICS 2017 - USA conversion table
- NAICS 2017 - USA to MCC Visa conversion table
- NAICS 2017 - USA to MCC MasterCard conversion table
- MCC Visa to ISIC rev. 4 conversion table
- MCC MasterCard to ISIC rev. 4 conversion table
- ISIC rev. 4 to MCC Visa conversion table
- ISIC rev. 4 to MCC MasterCard conversion table
- MCC Visa to NACE rev. 2 conversion table
- MCC MasterCard to NACE rev. 2 conversion table
- NACE rev. 2 to MCC Visa conversion table
- NACE rev. 2 to MCC MasterCard conversion table
- MCC Visa to SIC 1987 conversion table
- MCC MasterCard to SIC 1987 conversion table
- SIC 1987 to MCC Visa conversion table
- SIC 1987 to MCC MasterCard conversion table
- MCC Visa to UK SIC 2007 conversion table
- MCC MasterCard to UK SIC 2007 conversion table
- UK SIC 2007 to MCC Visa conversion table
- UK SIC 2007 to MCC MasterCard conversion table